F.L.Y.: Financially Literate Youth

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Jai Hobbs & Marlies Hobbs, FLY: Financially Literate Youth, Penguin Australia, January 2021, 336 pp., RRP $29.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781761041341

As parents, we want to pass on as much knowledge and wisdom as we can to our kids. We want to prevent them from making big mistakes, to fulfil their potential and to understand the world they live in so they can make good choices for themselves when we are no longer there to guide them. It can be difficult to condense years of learning and experience and pass that on to our kids in a way they will take on board. After all, did you really want to hear your parents’ advice when you were a teenager? 

It comes to a point where kids need to learn things for themselves, and while they might not be willing to listen to you, they might be willing to read it from experts. Particularly when those experts are helping them earn, save, and grow money. I don’t recall ever doing a subject in high school called “Money 101: everything you need to know about personal finances”. But if one existed, FLY: Financially Literate Youth should definitely have been the textbook.

While the structure, length and detail of this book make it read a lot like a textbook, interestingly it is written in the second person, giving it a very personal feel. The authors directly address the reader using language that is concise and, in general, palatable for a teenager. Sections are not too lengthy and are broken up with inspirational quotes and hypothetical case studies to demonstrate the concepts being discussed. 

The authors set themselves an ambitious task with the amount of information they cover, and they have done a marvellous job. The chapters have been well considered and are extremely thorough, with dozens of additional references to online sites. Each chapter covers a broad area related to decisions about money. These include earning money, budgeting, credit, major purchases, starting a business and financial hardship. The final chapter is a diversion for a ‘textbook’ type book. Instead, it leans more to a ‘self-help’ format. The reader is given an emotional boost and is encouraged to set goals and believe in themselves.

I haven’t yet seen anything else on the Australian market quite so accessible and comprehensive in presenting financial information kids need as this one. Some books target parents, helping them to teach their kids. Others might have specific strategies and recommendations for making financial decisions. This book doesn’t feel like it’s trying to persuade or preach one way or another. It does have warnings about certain things like credit, loans and the ramifications of risky decisions, but essentially, it tells kids the reality of what happens when things go wrong, or responsibilities aren’t met. 

Many families will benefit greatly from adding this to their home reference library. Young adult readers will come back to it when they start a job, buy a car, move out, get a mortgage, and make the big decisions in life. As the authors state in the introduction, cherish it like a best mate, and refer to the relevant parts as they become relevant in your life (pg. 3).

FLY: Financially Literate Youth is highly recommended, as it contains everything young adults need to know about basic life finances in one, conveniently indexed, place. 

Reviewed by Cherie Bell

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